By Bill and Nancy LaFramboise
The official WOS Conference, centered in the Columbia Basin, accumulated a bird-sighting total of 164 species, about the same as the number of conference attendees. The best bird overall had to be the Snowy Egret discovered by Wilson and Susan Cady when they stopped at Crow Butte State Park on their way to the conference.
Excitement was high, as this was one of the stops planned for the Bickleton/Rock Creek trip the next day. The Snowy Egret was relocated on Friday and Saturday(and maybe by folks on their way home on Sunday). We were fortunate that it persisted through Monday evening, so we too could enjoy this find, a state and county bird for both of us (but not the first Benton County record). Bickleton/Rock Creek also had Wild Turkey, Gray Flycatcher, Lewis’ Woodpecker, and both bluebirds. This trip total was 103 species.
The Arid Lands Ecology Reserve (ALE), the North Slope, and Webber Canyon each produced great birding, with many expected birds being seen by most people. Highlights included Ferruginous Hawk; Gray Partridge; Chukar; Lewis’ Woodpecker; and Vesper, Sage, Lark,and Grasshopper Sparrows. Warblers were a little low in numbers but Yellow, Yellowrumped, Nashville, Wilson’s, Townsend’s, and Orange-crowned were seen. Shorebirds were actually a surprise because a lot of the rivers/deltas had high water.
Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Solitary, Least and Western Sandpipers, American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, Black-necked Stilt, Dunlin, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, and Common Snipe were encountered.
Ten raptor species were observed on the Walla Walla Delta trip and 13 overall were counted. Five owl species were found, including a Burrowing Owl within 1 mile of the hotel.
We’d like to thank those who participated in the conference. We especially thank the many people who helped as field trip leaders, speakers, and organizers.